Kelli O'Hara has a long list of Broadway credits from her Tony-winning performance in the 2015 revival of The King and I to The Bridges of Madison County, Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific, The Pajama Game and The Light in the Piazza and more. Now, O'Hara is making a splash on The Gilded Age, a New York-set period drama created by Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes. Packed with Broadway stars, the hit series has already been promised a second season. O'Hara spoke with Broadway.com Editor-in-Chief Paul Wontorek about the series and more on The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal.
"I cannot tell you what a gift this has been, not only because it is something that we were able to do over this pandemic," O'Hara said. "I feel like it's this part of theater as well—and yet it's a television show. It was with all my friends. I felt really at home." The nine-part series centers on the orphaned daughter (Louisa Jacobson) of a Southern general who moves in with her aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) in 1880s New York City and is thrust into high society. Audra McDonald, Carrie Coon, Katie Finneran, Claybourne Elder, Michael Cerveris, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Debra Monk, Nathan Lane and Denée Benton are just a few of the stage stars in the series, which premiered on January 24.
O'Hara plays society lady Aurora Fane in The Gilded Age. "It's so funny with television," she said. "It's not like theater or a play where you have this arc and you go in and you know the backstory and you know the ending. I cannot tell you honestly what they intended for Aurora, but what I know is what I want for Aurora. I really desperately want, as we go forward, for Aurora to be surprising and not just typical."
In addition to The Gilded Age, O'Hara stars in Arian Moayed's thriller miniseries The Accidental Wolf. The second season premiered on December 30, 2021. A release date for season three has not been announced. "We've shot season three, and it's my favorite," she shared. "I've learned so much about being on set."
"Broadway has been and theater is and will always be my main love," she said. Referencing a photo she recently shared of herself in the 2001 revival of Follies, she added, "When you look back at that girl, I had no idea what my future was in this town. It really has been an enormous gift."
Watch the interview below, and head here to check your local listings for The Broadway Show. Hosted by Emmy-winning anchor Tamsen Fadal, it is the only nationally syndicated weekly theater news program.